United States District Court, Northern District of Florida

The Eight Stages of Trial

Once a jury has been selected and sworn, the trial proceeds. There are usually eight stages of trial in civil cases. They are:

  1. The judge gives the jury some preliminary instructions and then the lawyers present opening statements. Sometimes the opening statements on behalf of one or more parties are omitted.
  2. Plaintiff calls witnesses and produces evidence to prove its case.
  3. Defendant may call witnesses and produce evidence to disprove the plaintiff's case and to prove the defendant's claims.
  4. Plaintiff may call rebuttal witnesses to disprove what was said by the defendant's witnesses.
  5. Closing arguments are made by the lawyer on each side.
  6. The judge instructs or charges the jury as to the law.
  7. The jury retires to deliberate.
  8. The jury reaches its verdict and returns to the courtroom where the verdict is announced.
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